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7 San Antonio restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations

2023 James Beard semifinalists

Photo by Nick Simonite

The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Seven San Antonio restaurants have been included in both national categories and the coveted title of Best Chef: Texas.

Considered the Oscars of the food world, the awards recognize outstanding chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. The awards also include media categories that will be announced at a later date.

San Antonio restaurants and bars are well represented among both the national and regional awards. Overall, the city earned three national nominations and four nominations for Best Chef: Texas. Perhaps one of them will follow the five Texas chefs who took home James Beard Awards in 2022.

They are:

Emerging Chef: Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin, Best Quality Daughter
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Anne Ng, Bakery Lorraine
Outstanding Bar: Weathered Souls Brewing Company

Best Chef: Texas nominees
Nicola Blaque, The Jerk Shack
Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia, and Sean Wen, Curry Boys BBQ
John Russ, Clementine
Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)

Elsewhere, Houston and Dallas both boast 10 nominees, Austin has six, and Fort Worth has two.

As with last year, the nominees include a wide range of barbecue pitmasters. Jerk Shack and Curry Boys BBQ are joined by the pitmasters at multiple other restaurants. Building on Austin chef Iliana de la Vega’s Best Chef: Texas win last year, several chefs who serve Mexican cuisine received semifinalist nominations.

Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29. The Foundation will reveal its winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Photo by Nick Simonite

Bakery Lorraine's Anne Ng earned a nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker.

Photo courtesy of A24

CultureMap film critic’s guide to the 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees of 2023

Oscar analysis

The nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards have been announced, with 10 films vying for Best Picture. Everything Everywhere All at Once led the way with 11 total nominations, with The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front close behind with 9 nominations each.

Take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic, Alex Bentley, had to say about each of the nominees (listed below in alphabetical order) when they were originally released. This year's Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 12.

All Quiet on the Western Front (not reviewed)
The epic anti-war German film, available to stream on Netflix, has been gaining steam on the awards circuit in recent weeks, also earning 14 nominations for the British Academy film awards, the most among films nominated there. With nine nominations at the Oscars, it's a serious contender to win not just International Feature Film, but Best Picture as well, a la Parasite.

Avatar: The Way of Water
There’s no denying that everything in the long-awaited Avatar looks spectacular, from the Na’vi to the different animals of the world to the abundant water. But writer/director James Cameron has also employed the high frame rate of 48 frames-per-second, giving everything a hyper-real look that, at least for this critic, does not make for a great viewing experience. Also, for a film that’s 3 hours and 12 minutes long, you’d think there would be plenty of time to devote to all aspects of the story, but somehow that isn’t the case. Though it's nominated for Best Picture, its best chances of winning lie in the three other technical nominations.

The Banshees of Inisherin
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this film reunited him with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for one of the funniest movies of the year, and also one of the saddest. The film is spectacular in its ordinary nature, with the story centering around Gleeson's character ending his longtime friendship with Farrell's character for seemingly no reason. All four main actors - Farrell (Best Actor), Gleeson (Best Supporting Actor), Barry Keoghan (Best Supporting Actor), and Kerry Condon (Best Supporting Actress) - earned nominations, and McDonagh was nominated for both directing and writing, making this film one of the favorites.

Elvis
One of those love-it-or-hate-it type movies, the latest from writer/director Baz Luhrmann didn't hit the sweet spot for this critic, mostly because its focus was more on Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and not Elvis (Austin Butler) himself. That meant much more time for Hanks to deliver one of the worst performances of the year. Butler earned his Best Actor nomination, as there are times when he is absolutely electric. But there's a reason that six of its eight nominations are in technical categories - the story doesn't live up to Butler's performance.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
On the other end of the spectrum from Elvis is Everything Everywhere All at Once, a film that knew how to use its flashiness in much better ways. Featuring a breathtaking lead performance by Michelle Yeoh (who earned her first-ever nomination), the return of '80s kid star Ke Huy Quan (favored to win for Best Supporting Actor), and polar opposite performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu (both nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the film was as wild and weird as it was emotional. With a couple of surprise nominations, including Best Musical Score and Best Song, it seems destined for a lot of wins.

The Fabelmans
The most personal movie ever from writer/director Steven Spielberg (nominated in both categories), The Fabelmans is a lightly-fictionalized chronicle of Spielberg's childhood, where he caught the bug of filmmaking and endured his parents' disintegrating marriage. With seven overall nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Williams, a surprise Best Supporting Actor nomination for Judd Hirsch (who's in the film for less than 10 minutes), and another nomination for Best Score for the iconic John Williams (who now has 52 - !! - lifetime nominations), it would be unwise to discount this film's chances at taking home the top prize.

Tár
If ever a film was defined by its lead actor, it's Tár, featuring a towering - and now, Oscar-nominated - performance by Cate Blanchett as world-renowned - but fictional - conductor Lydia Tár. The first film in 16 years from writer/director Todd Field (nominated in both categories), it is notable for how much time it devotes to setting up Tár as a character. Though the story is set in the rarefied world of classical music, it has a grounded nature that keeps it balanced. The film is nominated for seven total Oscars, but its best chance at a win lies with Blanchett, who's the heavy favorite.

Top Gun: Maverick
My personal No. 1 movie of the year, the long-gestating sequel to 1984's Top Gun delivered everything you could want out of a summer blockbuster and more. Even though it it essentially offers up the greatest hits from the original in a slightly repackaged manner, it does so in a spectacular manner. Even though you'd expect its five nominations aside from Best Picture (which gives star Tom Cruise, who also served as a producer, his first Oscar nomination in 24 years) to be technical ones, it was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, an indication that its story was equal to its visuals.

Triangle of Sadness (not reviewed)
A black comedy that takes aim at the obliviousness of wealthy people, Triangle of Sadness is only nominated in three categories, but they're three big ones - Best Picture, Best Director (Ruben Östlund), and Best Original Screenplay (Östlund). Unlike some of the other films in this category, it was not among the best-reviewed movies of the year, but it's clear that Östlund has his supporters in the writer and director wings of the Academy, so one or two wins are not out of the realm of possibility.

Women Talking
Although it was one of my top 10 movies of the year, Women Talking is perhaps the least likely film among the 10 nominated to be in this category, as it only has one other nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay for writer/director Sarah Polley. Set almost entirely in a barn loft on a Mennonite compound as a group of women decide how to fight back against abusive men, it is a true ensemble film, with no actor truly standing out among the others. Still, with award-winning actors like Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Claire Foy leading the way, it deserves to be recognized among the year's best.

Courtesy of Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection

Landmark Texas estate checks in on exclusive list of world's best hotels for 2023

Stay Golden

A new list of the best hotels in the world — by Condė Nast Traveler, no less — may sound lofty and aspirational, but one is just a short drive from San Antonio: the now prestigious Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection.

Opened in 2020 and known for its lush Lutie’s Garden Restaurant and beautiful Hyde Park setting, this resort signals luxury without stuffiness or cold modernity. On the contrary, most of its programming — some open only to guests and some specifically advertised to the public — is most attractive for its old-fashioned charm, with plenty of opportunities to dress up like inhabitants of classic American literature.

Condė Nast Traveler's Gold List 2023 indexes the best hotels and resorts in the world, divided by continents or even larger regions. Selections were made by editors who have visited in person, and narrowed the list down to “all-time favorite hotels that exemplify the gold standard of service and hospitality from around the world,” according to a press release.

Austin's Commodore Perry Estate joins 10 other standouts in the "U.S., Canada, and The Caribbean.” This collection, compared with the other continents, appears more contemporary, or at least leans less on old-world aesthetics.

There are no other Texas properties on the list.

The list points out the events calendar as one of the estate’s strongest suits, but also discusses its colorful history, emphasizing the wacky-but-stylish characters who preceded Austin’s iconoclastic reputation.

“We are truly humbled that Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection has received this prestigious recognition from Condé Nast Traveler,” said Commodore Perry general manager Marco Bustamante in the release. “This recognition is thanks to our incredible Texan team whose dedication to creating immersive guest experiences and offering the highest level of personalized service have earned this incredible distinction.”

Commodore Perry Estate's 54 rooms start at $445 per night. Book at aubergeresorts.com.

Courtesy of Texas Cultural Trust

Texas Medal of Arts unveils 2023 recipients, including San Antonian musician

Texas Medal of Awesome

After releasing initial details for next year's Texas Medal of the Arts Awards (TMAA), the Texas Cultural Trust (TXCT) has revealed the full lineup of 2023 honorees — and San Antonio residents will recognize one local name.

Taking place in venues across Austin, the two-day biannual event recognizes the creative contributions of Texans across multiple disciplines, from music to architecture, film, design, and beyond. Next year's honorees also span multiple geographical regions, with recipients representing Houston, El Paso, and everywhere in between.

“We are beyond thrilled to resume the TMAA celebration, after having to postpone and cancel in 2021 due to the pandemic, with an extraordinary lineup of talented Texans who have each inspired and captivated their communities, our state, and beyond,” says Texas Cultural Trust CEO Heidi Marquez Smith. “Our organization strives to spotlight the vital role the arts play in our state and our everyday lives. Texas has such a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be recognized, invested in, and celebrated.”

So, without further ado, the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts Honorees are:

  • Arts/Health: Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston
  • Lifetime Achievement/Musical Theatre: Carole Cook, Abilene
  • Music: Christopher Cross, San Antonio
  • Music/Songwriter: Miranda Lambert, Lindale
  • Architecture: Miró Rivera Architects, Austin
  • Visual Arts: Deborah Roberts, Austin
  • Design: Lela Rose, Dallas
  • Literary Arts: Benjamin Alire Saenz, El Paso
  • Film/Producer: Taylor Sheridan, Weatherford
  • Dance: Septime Webre, Brownsville
  • Film/Actor: Luke Wilson, Dallas

Christopher Cross has sold over 10 million albums in his career, which has spanned more than four decades. His 1980 self-titled debut album won five Grammy Awards, including — for the first time in Grammy history — the “Big Four” most prestigious awards: Record of the Year (for the single “Sailing”), Album of the Year, Song of the Year (also “Sailing”), and Best NewArtist. Cross also boasts an Academy Award for Best Song ("Arthur's Theme," co-written with Burt t Bacharach for the film Arthur); a Golden Globe, an Emmy nomination, and five Top 10 singles.

The TXCT's signature two-day event will begin on February 21, 2023, with the Arts Alive! Reception at Commodore Perry Estate, culminating with an Awards Show and Gala Dinner at the Long Center for Performing Arts on February 22, 2023. This year's events are co-chaired by Linda LaMantia, civic leader and artist dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts and education; Judy Robison, philanthropic advocate for prioritizing equity in access to the arts for all children; and world-renowned fashion designer and 2019 TMAA Honoree Brandon Maxwell.

Besides Maxwell, previous honorees have included Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, H-E-B, Robert Rodriguez, Walter Cronkite, Lawrence Wright, Sandra Cisneros, Lyle Lovett, Texas Monthly, and many more. In total, the TMAA have celebrated 118 Texas leaders and luminaries since its inception in 2001.

Christopher Cross will receive a 2023 Texas Medal of Arts.

Courtesy of Texas Cultural Trust
Christopher Cross will receive a 2023 Texas Medal of Arts.

San Antonio barbecue truck smokes onto Bon Appetit's prestigious best new restaurants list

One Hot Joint

Texas restaurants are well-represented on Bon Appetit’s list of America’s 50 Best New Restaurants for 2022. Seven Lone Star State establishments earned the magazine's approval, including one in San Antonio.

Reese Bros. Barbecue, a food truck that pairs classic Texas barbecue with Mexican-inspired sides, represents Alamo City on the list.

The other six Texas standouts are:

  • Birdie’s, a counter service restaurant in Austin known for its seasonal menu and well-chosen list of natural wines
  • Canje, the Caribbean restaurant in Austin from star chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph
  • El Rincon del Maiz, a taqueria in Garland that serves vegan tacos on seven different types of corn tortillas
  • La Onda, chef Victor Villarreal’s Latin-inspired seafood restaurant in Fort Worth that includes dry-aged fish among its offerings
  • March, the Houston fine dining restaurant dedicated to tasting menus inspired by different regions of the Mediterranean
  • The Nicolett, a Lubbock restaurant that serves “High Plains Cuisine” in the form of dishes such as elk tartare and house-made pappardelle stuffed with avocado.

The strong showing represents an improvement over 2019, when only four Texas restaurants made the list. Instead of awarding Best New Restaurants in 2021, Bon Appetit recognized restaurants that showed leadership during the pandemic with its Head of the Table awards.

Once again traveling the country to select this year's honorees, the magazine's editors express optimism about the state of dining in America. They note that a broader range of immigrant culinary traditions has spread across the country, writing that it means “more Guyanese and South Indian and Palestinian and Indigenous Mexican food for all of us.” They also praise restaurants that are “putting their staff first” by offering improved working environments.

“I hope this list, divided by region and filled with our thoughts on what to order and what to know, acts as an invitation to shake off any skepticism as to whether going out is ‘worth it’ these days,” restaurant editor Elazar Sontag adds.

Each restaurant on the list receives a brief profile along with a list of recommended dishes. Started by sibling founders Elliott and Nick Reese (formerly at Brick Vault Brewing and Barbecue in Marathon, Texas), the Reese Bros Barbecue menu brings unique creations to the San Antonio barbecue scene. Bon Appetit highlights a few, including "fall-apart brisket oak-smoked to barky perfection, juicy-spicy sausages stuffed with queso fundido, and a slew of excellent Mexican-inspired sides from chefs Jorge Flores and Gabriel Perez."

From this long list of 50 restaurants, Bon Appetit will reveal its ranked top 10 list on September 14.

Photo by Miguel Angel

Texas Medal of Arts Awards returns with star-studded affair in 2023

Championing the Arts

One of the Lone Star State's premier patrons of the arts, the Texas Cultural Trust (TXCT), announced the return of the biannual Texas Medal of the Arts (TMAA) awards, coming in 2023. The nonprofit's signature event will take place at venues across Austin on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 21 and 22, 2023.

Celebrating the creative contributions of Texans across multiple disciplines, the 2023 event will reflect and look ahead to the role the arts play in our lives and communities. Texas Culture Trust 2019 TMAA honoree Brandon Maxwell will chair the event, along with TXCT immediate past board of directors chair Linda LaMantia, and TXCT board of directors executive committee member Judy Robison.

Maxwell is the awards’ youngest recipient and the first to receive recognition for fashion design. His eponymous, ready-to-wear collection and custom creations have graced the likes of Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle, Oprah, Lady Gaga, and 2017 TMAA honoree Lynn Wyatt of Houston. LaMantia joined the Texas Cultural Trust board in 2009, a longtime supporter of the arts and education. El Paso-resident Robison is likewise a lifetime supporter, as well as a former chair and board member of the trust since 2008.

Together with leadership, the chairs convened a statewide group of experts to select the 2023 TMAA honorees across a wide variety of creative disciplines.

“The state of Texas is fortunate to have been the birthplace of a vast number of incredibly creative and talented artists in every medium,” says Robison. “It is my great pleasure to co-chair this amazing event to showcase the many accomplishments of Texas artists. After a three year delay, we are ready to present the best Texas Medal of the Arts show ever!”

Since 2001, the TMAA has celebrated 118 Texas leaders and luminaries for their creative talents, excellence, and generosity. The star-studded celebration spotlights the power of the arts to not only improve children’s education, stimulate the economy, and improve health and well-being, but also to keep us connected, engaged, and inspired. The two-day event also aims to preserve the unique and proud culture of Texas.

"The arts add vibrancy to our lives and give us the space to engage and connect with others,” says TXCT CEO Heidi Marquez Smith in a release. “This spectacular event provides an opportunity to highlight the creative genius that has been cultivated in Texas and reminds us why we need to continue to invest in the arts. The Texas Medal of Arts Awards is not only meaningful, but entertaining and inspiring!"

Each ceremony recognizes nominees from the following categories: architecture, arts education, arts patron (individual and corporate), dance, design, film, lifetime achievement, fashion design, literary arts, media/multimedia, music (performance and songwriter), television, theater arts, and visual arts. Past honorees include actors Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Tommy Lee Jones, and Eva Longoria; musicians ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Ray Benson; Texas-born businesses Neiman Marcus, H-E-B, Exxon Mobil, and Texas Monthly; director Robert Rodriguez; media personalities Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite; writer Lawrence Wright; and many more.

The 2023 event will take place in iconic Austin venues, including the Commodore Perry and The Long Center for the Performing Arts.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.